Friday, December 12, 2008

Photoshop CS4 is out


I got the trial of Adobe CS4 at work to check it out before we upgrade from CS3. And I can definitely tell you that I don't see any noticeable differences. Oh except that if you create something in CS4 you can't edit it in CS3... very inconvenient. If you make a design in CS3 or an earlier edition you can edit in CS4. I checked the adobe site to see what the new features were that I failed to notice. apparently there is an Adobe Configurator so you can drag and drop menu items, tools, video and images. There is also fluid canvas rotation. As far as I can tell the improvements are mostly to the user interface and not so much the capabilities. Still, it is nice to have the newest toy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Move over Flash....




Over the weekend, my friend who works for a graphic design company in NYC told me about Microsoft Silverlight that covers animation mixed with interactivity. It was shown to the public last year at NAB 2007 and used a lot my movie studios like 20th Century Fox. For animation and visual design it uses an EME (Expression Media Encoder) to create games and interactivity for websites. Anyone else ever use this? Better or worse than Flash? Considering it's from Microsoft, I would imagine it's slow and hard to use like Vista.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Usability



Since we are all interested and practicing usability concepts, for those of us who want to learn more and become more adept at it, I recommend the usability first website. It is actually produced by a design firm, but is useful for anyone concerned about maximizing the usability of their website.




Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Color and your mind

Remember many moons ago, well only a couple of months, during the color section of the class where we had to find the color with the word of another color written on it? I found a game that highlights this notion of confusing your mind to get to different levels using a variety of color schemes. Try it out but I must warn you, it's both very addicting and very frustrating.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Golden Eyes on Television

Television is killing the minds of our youth!!!

Television is the cause of the rise in Violence in America!!

These are some of the complaints that most of us have heard about television over the years. To some extent their can be some truth behind these allegations and but for a group of young economist this is only a piece of the puzzle behind the "tube." These economist are compiling data showing that watching television is not all bad and that is more cases it is leading to higher test scores.

Most doctors will advise that children not watch more than two hours of television per day. Since the 1960's television has made drastic changes to more of an edgy style of programing thus effecting how our children are raised and how they will be viewing the world. at one point television served as an important tool for immigrant's children to America. This was a toll that was teaching the Non-native children not only how to speak English but it was also teaching these raw minds what it was to be American (in both a positive and negative light).

In todays society the new style of programing will be making the same influence on todays youths that it did on yeaster-years. Bu will this impact be positive or negative?

What this group has been leaning towards is that with proper programing and monitoring of television the impacts can be astronomical in a positive way.(Duhh!!) But how can this be possible in a society that has become so distant between each other that interaction has become a barrier?

I guess we will see America.

The thoughts from this story have been sparked by the article titled "A new View on TV" published in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 6, 2008

Thanksgiving Flash

Here is a little Flash design that I found just in time for Thanksgiving. It demonstrates how to make a pumpkin pie. One day I would like to re-create not in the kitchen but in the ICM program! Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gmail disappoints

So Gmail has the new "Themes" tab. When you get to the login screen, the mountains loom majestically in the background. When I saw that, I had these great templates in my mind. I went to the themes tab, and was very disappointed. Google has its own image search tab for the search engine, and occasionally changes its cute Google logo. However, the choices within the Themes tab to personalize your webmail is surprisingly small. There are 31 templates, including the default setting. I feel like there should be more templates... maybe it's just a bias due to the vastness that is Google.

I did, however, change my theme to "Summer Ocean." Did anyone else change their theme? Was anyone else disappointed?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Put to the test


Creating this website for our final project as well as designing the assignments this entire semester has put my creativity to the test more than ever before. As this semester is slowly coming to a close, it was funny to see how Photoshop (one visual design program) that we solely used every class, can take our creative ideas and put them on a virtual canvas. It's uniquely funny how each person has their own style. Maybe I'm getting too sentimental but this was my moment of reflection. We will mix well in the design world!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Keep it Simple

As I continue to develop my website project for the class, I continually run into the issue of trying to include too much. I think it's part of my personality to share and and give alot of information. If I'm going to design websites, I need to grow past that. So, I'm trying to keep this website design simple and functional as an exercise in simplification and clarity. I like to be more decorative and feature-rich, but I'll save that for another project. I really think this exercise will help me break free from making a cluttered site. In the future, I will hopefully learn to include only what is needed first, then maybe dress it up a little for the sake of visual interest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adding a Web Gallery

I found this tutorial and this site that explain how to make a gallery in photoshop. I thought they do a good job of refreshing what we learned in class. There's even a few things we didn't talk about included in the tutorial.

Monday, November 17, 2008



Business Cards

So at my totally awesome job, note the sarcasm, I had to update some contacts which meant going through hundreds of business cards. Considering that earlier in the semester we designed our own business card, I was paying attention to some of the designs.

One thing I noticed was that on a lot of the business cards, the person's name was very difficult to find. I feel like that is kind of an important part of a business card, and that you should design yours so your name and other pertinent information is clearly vi sable.

The point of design should be to impart the information you want to get across in a visually pleasing way. But if the information is hard to see or understand, the design might look cool but the point of the design is a failure.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

D-Rex

In our Friday night Class (ICM 506) we broke up into groups and chose an interactive site to "pitch" to the rest of the class on its merit. Some of the sites presented were very Flash heavy, which some saw as a pro, and some saw as a con. I was watching SpongeBob SquarePants - yeah, I watch Nickelodeon, do you want to fight about it? - and there was an advertisement for a robotic T-Rex, called D-Rex. The toy itself is pretty sweet, and the accompanied website is one of those that is a little bit Flashed-out, but given the "To Flash or Not to Flash" article, it would be very popular with the demographic that it is being marketed to.
And if anyone's looking for a Christmas gift for me, this would definitely make me happy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interactive Websites

I have been doing some research lately on websites, studying their layout, text amount, graphics, and interactive elements. Simple is good, for certain subjects. With my topic being a beginner's guide, I realized simple is the way to go. If I was an amazing design person and able to do a site like this, I would. The site is about an old man and is so simple but beautifully put together. I aspire to be able to do something like this someday. 

Aesthetic disasters


Try to recreate these monstrosities in architecture in Photoshop. I recently came across this article on AOL about the top 10 ugliest buildings in the world. The award for the #1 building that is not aesthetically pleasing to the eye is Boston City Hall in none other than Boston, Mass. From the planning to the actual completion of the construction, the design flaws managed to make it to the end. I would like to see a list of the top 10 worst designed websites. I think we all have come across some from time to time especially when we wrote our papers for ICM 502.
Since most of these buildings were designed and constructed many years ago before a lot of web design programs came into the picture, they would most likely not be approved in today's standards.


Animation

Ever since last Saturdays class I want to animate everything I do. When I got home from class on Saturday, I immediately showed everyone who would pay attention what I had learned. I am somewhat concerned that my entire final will be animation overload, I will however try not to do so, for that sake of viewers. The point here is that animation is really cool. I have a three year old niece who watches every Disney Pixar film available probably every time she sits down to watch a movie. Nemo is one of my all time favorites. I also love the Bee Movie and Wall-E. All of these movies are animation overload which makes them so much fun to watch. Animation has been around for quite some time, however, has really stepped it up a notch in terms of the films we see today. In terms of animation, it actually goes back to much earlier examples. An early example of attempts to capture motion drawing was paleolithic cave paintings. Animation goes back as early as cave paintings, that is pretty cool stuff. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Font Heaven!

Even though there are about 42 million font options in Photoshop, or so it seems, I sometimes could not find the font I'd envisioned in my project. If font styles help set the mood of your pieces, try out dafont.com. A very 'net savvy co-worker of mine showed me this site over the summer. There are genres and several options within those genres, so if you don't see the font you're looking for, it just may not exist :) Good luck!

New York Times

Photo Design programs are becoming limitless. Users are able to design pieces that are incredibly inspiring and at times frightening. Recently two gentleman forged a false copy of the "New York Times" that contained drastic left wing media and views. The most influential headline on the paper was found front and center the front page of the paper stating the the Iraq war has ended. This stunt threw many new yorkers into a disillusionment about the workings of the government and certainly stirred the public pot of knowledge about the government.

Their was more than 1 million copies produced and handed out around the city. The target areas of distribution were M.T.A areas. The reason for the stunt was to open our societies eyes to what is still going on over seas and to send a message to the incoming president and his cabinet.

I think that we often "drool" over the applications of technology and we as Americans are always wanting to push limits, which is a great attribute to contain. But we also need to realize that with all good technology can bring their is equally if not more bad that the technology is capable of.

Photoshop Tips in 5 Min.



This is 101 Photoshop tips in 5 quick minutes. I found these tips to be very interesting and helpful. I hope that this can help you also.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

10 things you could be using Photoshop for

Most of us know these and most of us do use Photoshop for these reasons; but its a good blog entry to check out. There are some good pictures too. What did people every do without Photoshop? I remember using a camera with film back in photography class in high school. Now no picture is what it appears- in magazines, on television, billboards or on the Internet. Is organic photography a thing of the past?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

rollover navigation

I'm planning to have rollover navigation for my final project and I found this explanation on the adobe site. I thought it might be helpful to others trying to integrate rollover functions into the slicing we learned last Saturday. It is a few extra steps, but it's a nice feature.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Real or fake? You decide 2008



When the new president's podium doesn't look like what it should, bring in the Photoshop to make a nice replacement or a little re-touch! I don't know if it's my eyes playing tricks on me once again but when searching through Yahoo! Sports this sign right below Obama seemed to look a little fake. Maybe I'm the only one and used to studying photos now through the introduction of complex visual aesthetics.

With new design products available like Photoshop, you can change just about anything published on the web and make it seem that it was actually taken with the photo and not added in after.

Is there anything believable through web photos these days?

Aiming high!

With all of the creativity and awesome designs floating around the ICM program, maybe you should think about submitting your best design to the Webby Awards. This year's deadline is in December and categories for entries include website/mobile, interactive design and online film and video. There is a special category designed specifically for works by students "who have designed web sites for academic purposes or as part of developing a portfolio."
The site explains it all and if you win, then look at all of the many reasons it can boost your career! With this years crazy moments primarily focused on the elections, I bet there will be a lot of entries focused on that. I wish the main site would display the works of past winners so that groups or individuals who are new to the entry process can see what they have to follow or don't replicate something that has been submitted in the past. If you google for past winners you'll see some notable achievements:

Breakout of the Year: MySpace.com
Entrepreneur of the Year: Mark Cuban (BlogMaverick.com)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert Kahn (inventor of TCP/IP protocol)
Best Copy/Writing: NewYorker.com
Best Navigation: Flickr.com
Best Visual Design: Google Earth
People’s Choice for Best Blog Culture/Personal: CuteOverload.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Flash / HTML experiment

The article Flash or Not to Flash was interesting: the idea that different demographics responded to different formats should not have surprised me, but it did. But I found the article rather distracting in that I had already read how other people responded to the versions of the site in question - the Renaissance site. Thus when I went to the site, all my thoughts went back to the readings, and clouded my personal reaction to the site. Ironically enough, while Googling potential project ideas for another class, I stumbled across a site with both a Flash and HTML entrance, and thought maybe others might want to check them out without a biased context. The site is for Reality Check, an organization of New York teenagers who are against Big Tobacco targeting youth. Should you choose to check them out, let me know which you preferred. Please.

More Photoshop Help

I don't know if anyone is looking for some more help with Photoshop with the semester ending so soon, but then again, final projects are coming up and I know I could use all the help I can get!

If you have iTunes (which, believe it or not, some people I know still don't), there are some free podcasts about Photoshop, and in iTunesU some free tutorials as well!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

funny tutorials

I came across these photoshop tutorials, You Suck at Photoshop. They are really funny and they have some learning value as well. Check them out, you won't be sorry.

Keep it Simple...

While working on our current project, I was reminded about one of the cardinal rules of web design, which is to keep it simple. I originally included alot of information and pictures (it's a photo website), but decided it was looking visually complicated and messy. It didn't flow well. So I began the clean-up, elimination process, which ended up looking simple and straighforward. My homepage only has elements it needs to find further information on the site. The area I cleaned up the most was text. I had included far too much information. It's one of those areas where you write what you want, then get rid of half of it, then get rid of half again. After I whittled it down, it was much more readable and interesting. I know I'm picky and critical about websites I use, so it's helpful to look at my own site as if I was going afresh to someone else's. I definitely don't like reading alot of text online. It's better as a visual medium. 
I am listing my personal, communications blog which I hope people will find interesting, and/or useful.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Inspiration for Web Site Design

You all may have your web design ideas set, but in case you don't, I found a site of 25 site layouts that are meant to be inspirational. (Found them through Delicious...hooray for ICM 501 assignments helping us in 502 as well!) My favorite one is GoMediaZine because it looks like a Kandinsky-inspired design. The Loria Family is pretty cool because it's futuristic. The other designs did not catch my attention as much. Do any of these appeal to you?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I am going to try and make something blink. I believe it works, but only on Firefox.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Personal identity

Reading through KJE's blog post about having a specific identity got me thinking about what my personal visual aesthetic identity would be. I agree with her that many people have their own specific design. I watched Corpse Bride the other day and you cannot ignore the fact that the movie screams Tim Burton even if you don't know he is responsible for the movie. I really enjoy working with vibrant colors and soft colors, I try to blend them together. Maybe that is my identity, blending contrasting colors...hmmm it's definitely something to think about. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nightmare is a Nightmare

I think one of the best examples to define aesthetics is Tim Burton's vision. His designs in his work are so very specific to his sense of style that its easy to pick out threads of distinction in his work. When I saw a preview for Sweeny Todd with Johnny Depp, I didn't need anyone to tell me this was a Tim Burton piece.
This is both good and bad I think. One one hand, its good to stand out. People know who you are and know your work when they see it. Then again, sticking to one style sometimes feels old and restricted. With the Tim Burton example, if you don't like his aesthetic, you won't be drawn to view his work.
So on one hand, is it better to stand out and be distinctive? Or is it better to broad and expand your designs?

A visual aesthetic TED talk


For those of you in ICM 501 who have come to love the material displayed in the TED talks, check out this video of perception and cognitive thinking through patterns. Michael Shermer provides some good comparisons of how we perceive images and makes you think twice about what you've seen. The Virgin Mary seems to be the common image that people from all over the world search for and see!

How many passes can you count in the basketball passing? Once you see this you'll see how many people in the audience were truly fooled by obvious sights. How do you miss that? It all depends on how you think and how our mind can be fixed on a certain extraordinary image. These images convince us that this is something from out of this world, literally.

So are you a skeptic? To each his own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ethics of Altering Pictures

I was reading through some of the earlier posts, and came across Feeling Through Pictures from 10/10. It was a response to the warped photos of Wall Street brokers as a way of expressing emotion via photos. Then below there was a comment which spoke of the belief that it is unethical for a news organization to alter or skew any photos. I agree - news organizations should not alter photos. In fact, I used to be dead-against altering even personal photos.

My feeling was that if you took a picture and it came out badly, you took a bad shot and that was a bloody shame. Had you wanted a better shot, you'd have taken the time to set it up, make it square, adjust settings, etc. Then I started doing a lot of traveling. And some of my on-the-go photos were, well, bad. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds to fly back over to Europe, Central America, Africa of Australia to retake a picture. The desire to have a clear, beautiful picture overpowered my feeling that the alteration of a picture ended before the shutter closed. Here are some pictures that I altered my second day ever with Photoshop, when I finally got over my stigma of altering photos.

PS - Photoblog is actually a pretty fun site to be a part of, if you're in the market for a photo sharing site.

SOS: Need inspiration

Creativity is not a free flowing operation. As a writer I struggle with the 'writer's block' issue; but I find I also get this block when working on other creative projects such as our final project. I am lacking inspiration. I don't have anyone in mind that I could design a functioning website for so I decided to go with a hobby of mine-yoga. I have been doing yoga for the past two years and it has changed the way I live. Though I must admit I don't know a whole lot about it. I know the prose for our website doesn't have to be extensive hence why I am sticking to the basics. But in a moment of panic I googled inspiration for web design and found some cool websites. Check them out if you do have a 'road block':


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nest Girl

One of my high school friends and I were catching up on news about old friends, and she mentioned to me that one of our friends lived in a nest. I found that hard to believe, but sure enough, she created a nest! She has a website (aptly called Nest Girl) that is filled with interesting photos and/or QT clips of installations, apparel, and habitats that she created -- including the buzzworthy nest. Have a look! I got lost in the work for hours. And Dwyer, if this post ever gets to you, congrats on being the most creative person that I know!

Help assembling webpage elements

If you haven't taken ICM512 yet, you might have to brush up on web development elements. However, if you're already familiar with the essential parts for good user interface on the web, this is a website which can help you come up with ideas on how to put those elements into your class web page designs.

http://patterntap.com/

Patterntap organizes different site components (like backgrounds, menu bars, breadcrumbs, comments boxes, etc) into different samples of styles. You can browse through the site and tag the pieces that you like or the effects that they have. And then you can try to recreate them in Photoshop on your own, or find some way to bring them into your own web page designs.

More color pickers

http://www.colorcombos.com/

This one has a nice feature on the top right of the page. If you find a website with colors that you like, you can just enter the URL there and colorcombos.com will return the swatches of color with values so you can adopt the palette as your own, or as a starting point for a new color palette.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to Take Great Halloween Pictures

I'm a bit of a loser, and I have all my travel photos posted online at webshots.com. I think it's a great site - it's free, unless you need the "premium" album with far too much storage capacity, you can view your albums as a slide show, and other people can follow your photos just like they would a blog. Using webshots, you also receive "Pro Tip" emails, telling you how to take great night shots, action shots, you name it. I don't mean this to sound like a promotion for webshots... but I just got sent a link on How to Create Ghostly Images for Halloween, and the use of Photoshop is a requirement. In case anyone was interested I thought I'd send it along. Also feel free to check out the archives on the blog - there are some pretty handy photography tips in there. Happy Halloween (in advance)!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Assistance from ICM 508

508 is a required course: Media Imaging and Sound Design. The book, Making Media by Jan Roberts-Breslin, is actually not a painful read. Some of the topics mentioned within the chapters have been put on their companion website - some of the exercises apply to exactly what we're doing in this course with color and such. Some of the suggestions are more helpful for photography and filming: things like look space and headroom. But I thought maybe people might find the points useful, so here's the companion site for the book. Hope it helps.

Friday, October 10, 2008

web design

I know the course is about to get interesting as we are getting ready to embark on designing our very own websites. I've been doing some perusing to get some inspiration. Check out CommArts - its a professional website that highlights some of the best websites out there. It also has job listings and contests for professionals looking to submit their work.

ICM And Me

A few weeks in and I said to myself, "wow we are getting good at this." I said this after looking on the wiki at everyones words, texts and business cards. I laughed a little because I thought back to our Khandinski replications. 

Not only in ICM 502 but in all my classes, this program forces you to learn so quickly and efficiently that it only takes a small amount of time to catch up on new technologies. 

This program truly is efficient and useful for anyone, anywhere. I have two blogs (soon I will be involved in three), I am using photoshop at a substantial level (with no prior knowledge), and I am learning all these new ways to create websites and fun programs (i.e. delicious/zotero/mibbit).

I cannot wait to see what else is going to be offered, I feel as if this just keeps getting better and better.  

Feelings through pictures


Looking at the updated news today on CNN's site, I noticed how they distort their pictures to fit the headlining story. This picture showing "Dow's Wild Ride" shows how crazy the market has been just by looking at the image. The reader can get the feeling of what is happening just by looking at this warped image. It looked like it might have been shot with a fish eye lens or warped using Photoshop. I thought it was very cool that they not only lured you into the story with this headlining image, but made you feel a sense of what's going on with the economy through the use of imagery.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Google

I have always liked the Google home page. I like how it is simple, uncomplex with just the Google name and search bar. We talked about fonts the last class, and the Google font works in its simplicity but sleekness I guess would be the word.

So for Google's 10th birthday, they brought back (for old times sake) Google circa 2001. Which, I don't really get, why not for the 10th birthday go back 10 years? Anyways, Google has kept the same basic look, with just a font change, since 2001! that's kinda crazy if you think about it. Especially since Google has been so successful. I wonder what Yahoo looked like 2001 style?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pretty little tree


I had to take a moment to recognize a truly great and entertaining artist. He is none other than Bob Ross. Although his works are close to impossible to recreate in Photoshop, his attention to detail combined with his spunky personality makes him and his artwork very unique. His coined terms "let's put a nice little cabin" or "a happy little cloud" is a wonderful example of depth and perfect combinations of colors that we covered in class. This site displays his works of art as well as a dedication to his impact on the art world.

The Agency Attitude


If you ever get a chance to work for an agency, give it a shot. The atmosphere is uptempo, frenetic, work hard/play hard, zany & crazy. You've got lots of creatives wandering the halls (they're the ones in ripped jeans and cool t-shirts). Mad Men this is decidedly not. In fact, I have never seen a realistic representation of a marketing/ad agency (at least not a modern one).

Irreverence is a big part of the overall attitude. Take this example found on top of our vending machines here. The sign on the left was the obvious original warning. The sign on the right appeared recently. Enjoy the chuckle.

A Vlog That Matters

Video logs or vlogs are a newer addition to the media. With the rise in popularity of volgs, there are many videos being posted that have value and importance. In terms of mainstream television, they usually cover topics in a few seconds and leave out much detail, for some reason I find them to leave out more detail about the war. In terms of volgs, it seems that there is a gap they have begun to fill, that the mainstream news just does not cover. This gap is on war reporting. Seems so simple, yet this is so important. Here is a link to a the PBS website called Media Shift. This particular article discuses how this gap is filled in vlogs and how there are some vlogs that ‘do it right,’ or use the medium well.
The example that Media Shift gives is how there is a citizen journal called Alive in Baghdad. It takes shape as a blog but serves as a political project as well. Considering that mainstream television only shows a small part of what is actually going on in Iraq, this journal/vlog shows all the details and serves to inform people. This is truly a vlog that matters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This site, text-image.com, creates images using colored binary code on a black backround. I thought it was pretty cool and good inspiration for the first part of our assignment. check it out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Typography Kicks @$$!

There is a website called Typography Kicks Ass that was started by a typography enthusiast. The site visitor writes a message and when they click "submit", it generates a collage-style message using fonts from Flickr images. Here is my message for our class (click here if you can't see image below):



Some of the type can get very creative. For example, a lamp post was used as a "1" in one of the versions of my message. Have fun with it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Creative Toilets

Foreword: Oh dear! I didn't realize that we had a communal blog to post on. If you would like to see my previous posts, you can find them here. Sorry about that.

I did some research for a response on my 501 blog and came across this blog posting about public bathroom design. These bathrooms perform all of the basics, but there's so much more to them. They range from cool to funny to overdone and crazy. No matter how crazy they get though, the color schemes flow together nicely. You'll notice some styles are complementary, analogous, etc. and the various textures convey different emotions (ex: compare the bar bathroom with the flowery one).

The designs alone would certainly be reason enough to excuse yourself to the loo!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pre-Conceived Colors

The cartoon assignment was thoroughly enjoyable - who doesn't love cartoons? I chose a classic character: Garfield. I was a little surprised that I had a hard time painting him anything other than shades of orange. Garfield has always been (and should always be) a fat, orangish feline. Having been presented with an image in a certain way for such a long time, it was hard to try to break away from the pre-conceived image that I had in my mind. I wondered if anyone else felt that way coloring their cartoon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Web 2.0 Resource

There's some great stuff up on this website. It's called Feed My App, and it's a portal site with links to all different Web 2.0 sites for a variety of uses, most of which are free or at least offer free trials. There's everything from business applications to social networks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

imperfect perfectness

In reading this weeks article assignment, I found the part about the spacing in the font letters very interesting. The article says "One such feature that is quite noticeable to the readers’ perceptual system is symmetry." The LILAC example was really interesting showing how imperfect spacing results in visually perfect appearance.

This is not a new concept, it has been around for thousands of years. I was reminded about the Parthenon in Athens. Ancient-Greece.org has a good article showing how the ancients knew how to space objects so they appear perfect. This article says

"The architects of the Parthenon appear to be excellent scholars of visual illusion, an attribute undoubtedly sharpened by years of architectural refinement and observation of the natural world. They designed the columns that appear at the corners of the temple to be 1/40th (about 6 cm) larger in diameter than all the other columns, while they made the space around them smaller than the rest of the columns by about 25 cm. The reason for this slight adaptation of the corner columns is due to the fact that they are set against the bright sky, which would make them appear a little thinner and a little further apart than the columns set against the darker background of the building wall. The increase in size and decrease of space thus compensates for the illusion that the bright background would normally cause."

VisualIllusions.net points out some other interesting visual illusion facts on the Parthenon, such that the base line is not perfectly straight, that is it buckled to appear straight. It is amazing how the ancient architects were able to take into consideration all these variables.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comics

It took me a very long time to even find a comic that I would consider using for our homework. I wanted to find something simple with clearly defined shapes that I could use the magnetic lasso to section off. I found a good site to search for comics. Check it out and see if it helps-it has all the classic favorites. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some fun with colors...

Since we are going to be focusing on colors next week in class,
I wanted to share some pics that I took over the past few years that have alot to do with colors. But first a little background. All my cameras have always been Canons, and probably always will be. Besides their durability, (which I can personally say is very good) they have this feature, which as far as I know, no other brand offers (please feel free to correct that if you know of any other kind of brand with this feature) the ability to heighten a selected color, and gray out all others. The effect is really cool and it gives new dimension to shots. Here are some samples, what do you think? Does this add to the shot, or really just take away from the it?

Watch where you step on that sidewalk!

Through e-mails that have been sent to me and watching a special on NatGeo, I have been amazed by artist Julian Beever. In class, since we've recently been exploring the use of depth and perspective combined with emotion, Julian's art is a prime example of this.
With just the use of chalk, he creates insane illusions on sidewalks all over the world. He travels to cities around the globe spending hours upon hours creating illusions that attract crowds of people walking by. Check out these images that will have you asking "how did he do that?"
My personal favorite is "Arctic Condition" seen here as the first image in this video displaying his mind boggling works of art. He not only limits himself to 3-D illusions but also does sketches of famous people and recreations of Picasso. I wouldn't even try and guess how to go about re-creating these images in photoshop!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Collages-pictures and cropping and layers oh my!

I haven't starting my collage yet; but its already starting to intimidate me. Just for fun I went to YouTube and looked up collages-surprisingly there are more than 40,000 videos! Warning: a lot of them are not in English. Some are tutorials, others are timed to music-but I suggest checking them out if not for a lesson just for aesthetic appeal.
In high school I used to make collages with magazine clippings on subject folders and sell them to people. I am looking forward to the project but I now its totally different in photoshop than with scissors and glossy magazine paper. Good luck everyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Joy of Magic Eye

I had taken for granted that not everyone can experience the joy that is the "magic eye" experience. While we were in class, looking at websites, I heard a few people venting frustration over not being able to see the images "pop". Like beauty, these optical illusions are in the eye of the beholder just as much as they are in the mind. Perhaps that is part of the appeal to optical illusions - that not everyone can see them. Perhaps the rarity makes them fun.
Well, the rarity, and the painful squinting, and the overwhelming satisfaction when the squinting pays off.

The importance of visual aesthetics

I never realized how important the appearance of a website is. "The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design" article we read really made sense, I just never considered how important aesthetics are in web design. Whenever I look at a website, I don't consciously think about the design, but I recognize it and note it. If I don't like it, I tend to navigate away from the page. This rings true in the article discussing aesthetics. The expectations of users is something I think a lot of people don't consider when they are making a website. Organization of the aesthetic material is also important when designing web space. Not over-doing it is also important. Many web designers put too much into their site which overwhelms the user. Basically, there is a lot of thinking that goes into creating a website, everything from use and placement of visual aesthetics to the text within the site. This article really brought visual aesthetics into perspective for me. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Illusions

After last weeks class I was happy to do a follow up reading on optical illusions. As we were looking at the illusions I was curious in them and had wanted to learn more. I found it fascinating that I could see something that clearly at first glance was not there. The Michaelbach website was my favorite in terms of pictures of illusions.

In the article "Optical Illusions," they defined an illusion as "1. something that decieves or misleads intellectually; 2. perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature" (ACNR Vol. 6 Number 2 May/June 2006). The illusion I was most mislead by was the ballerina. It looked at first glance that she clearly was circling in a clock-wise direction, then all of the sudden it was like my mind played a trick on me. She was moving counter clock-wise. I can see why people would be interested in studing optical illusions, even as far back as Aristotle, people were interested in this idea. I was fooled in terms of perception versus reality while looking at these pictures and I think not only is this an interesting science but also one worth paying attention to.

A whole new world

Considering this is my first introduction to Photoshop, I find it interesting. I delight at the fact that I can create colors, images and symbols that match my imagination. The book provides excellent example of how to maneuver through Photoshop with its details and graphics.

I have appreciated abstract art for some time and but trying to recreate it was a challenge. It made me admire the artwork of Kandinsky and Escher.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Newspapers

So I work at a newspaper. Needless to say things are drastically changing in the business. Newspapers are getting creative with their content and design. Once upon a time newspapers used to be filled with text from top to bottom. Next photos were introduced and helped create focal points and helped to draw attention to the big stories, advertisements ensued and so on. Many papers today include teasers or boxes that help draw your eye in to promote other parts of the paper and even the web. Its something I have to think a lot about at work. Especially because we recently underwent a massive redesign at the paper. New font, alternative story formats and lots of variety. Overall, the redesign was well received by our readers after time. Its hard because many people who read newspapers are older and are used to the way things have always been. People don't like change. Anyway the company that owns my paper is Gatehouse media. They have a website that features the best page designs of the day. People who work at the papers often log on to see if they made the cut. Check it out and get a feel for how things have changed since you last picked up a paper. 

Alexander Calder @ Whitney

I dated an art major in college. When I told him of my lack of interest in art, he tried to convince me that anyone can develop their art talents, even minimally. I countered that I couldn't even draw a stick figure of a human correctly. I drew a human stick figure.

Much to his disbelief, he knew I was right - I'm not exactly Picasso. Not even close!

I do, however, appreciate great art. I'm a fan of Van Gogh and Monet, Warhol & Dali, but only know the greatest hits. My husband got me into Escher. We even have some posters (not orginal) in our home.

I particularly love Alexander Calder. Blame Antiques Roadshow. Someone had this little tiny mobile by Calder and it was worth a fortune.

Walking through LA about four years ago, I spotted nearly the same mobile - on steriods. It was HUGE! I dragged my husband and kids over yelling, "That's a Calder, isn't it? I really think it's a Calder." My family thought I was nuts, but my husband was impressed.

I have since spotted two other Calders in DC and NY, and my kids have grown used to my latest obession. Don't ask me explain why I like his work - I just do.

Just this week, my boss got an invite to a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in NYC.

You guessed it - CALDER!

Just another excuse to get to New York.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some pretty cool pictures

I was looking online and some photoshop projects and I came across this very cool piece of software. It'a called Photomatix. I guess how it works is you take three versions of the same picture. One that is underexposed, one that is overexposed and one that is taken at the correct exposure. With piece of software (that I assume is very expensive) it blends all three pictures and makes them into one. When looking at the picture of the Eiffel tower, all parts of the picture are so clear it almost looks fake! As do some other pictures, but it's still pretty cool. Click here for the web gallery. Enjoy!!!

Optical Illusions and you

I came across this article on AOL this morning that will make your eyes dance! It's pretty interesting. What you see will surprise you. The use of aesthetics in these pieces of art are pretty fascinating. Some we have seen in class while others are pretty new. My personal favorite was the monsters running down the hallway and its use of perspective and angle. It's funny how different works of art can make your eyes do some pretty crazy things!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What makes design credible?

The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design states that one of the major functions aesthetics play in web design is to convey a message about the sender. They send this message if it is intentional or not. I thought this idea was really interesting and I remembered hearing that studies found professional looking websites garner more trust from unfamiliar users simply because of their look and feel.
I found this article that describes how website design conveys an idea to the user about the credibility of the sender. It also points out specific areas of design and how they affect the users' perceptions.

the offering


I was in Paris earlier this year for a few weeks and they were celebrating the anniversary of the student riots at La Sorbonne. Around the area of the university they had some large displays of photos taken during the riots. I took a picture sof one of the photo displays that, while I would characterize myself the farthest thing from a 'hippie,' I think is very intense and I wanted to share it with the class....

There are many details that add up to make this a fantastic shot. I like that the photographer chose to frame the shot so that the police would be in a long line, all with the same stern expressions and all with their weapons pointed towards the students.

Also, I like the student's expression and turned up hand indicating a peaceful offering. And the fact that hes offering a flower. I also like that the student is in the foreground and there is only one student in the shot. This makes the viewer feel as if they were one of the students facing a wall of police unwilling to bend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

3-D images

It's always fun playing with the magic eye books and its website. When we crossed our eyes and blatantly stared at the images for a couple minutes, I forgot how much fun they really were. I would love to see a special on the planning, design and actual production behind these crazy works of art. Or maybe they don't want to reveal the secret, sort of like Colonel Sanders' fried chicken recipe.

Is there an article or maybe a segment on Discovery channels' "How It's Made" that shows the behind the scenes with these works of art? Working with Photoshop, I can't imagine how many layers go into one of these drawings. My mind would probably explode based on my first experience re-creating Kandinsky's work of art. I find the whole notion of illusions and different perspectives on how we look at shapes to be really amazing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deviant Art

At the moment, I don't have much to contribute in terms of reflection. After struggling with Photo Shop for the longest time, and finally understanding that it's a little more complicated than Paintbrush (remember that?), I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Granted, that while I've been sick, staying in bed and playing with shapes and colors has been a lot of fun, but honestly, I don't know how I've survived without this application for so long!

In the meantime, however, I've been pointed towards the Deviant Art website by a friend of mine. I'm not sure how many people know about it, but head on over for some very interesting art and animation work submitted by an online art community. Just another community to be addicted to :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photoshop: 400 ways to do one thing

Talk about overwhelming! Opening Photoshop for the first time was very intimidating. Reading the first chapter of the Adobe Photoshop how to book was helpful, but just as daunting. Then, after flipping through the book and seeing some finished projects... the possibilities are endless!

another thing I found endless were the many ways to do the same thing. For example, to zoom in on your picture, you can use the mag. glass tool, or press shift +, or type in the %... and so on. I think once I get used to the program, things will get easier. However right now, the sky literally is the limit....

Copy a Painting

The assignment to create a copy of a Kandinsky painting in photoshop sounded intimidating, especially since his work tends to consist of complex shapes. As I got into it, I found it tedious, yet challenging and captivating. I decided early on not to spend the next month trying to make a completely faithful reproduction, so I settled on something that was "in the spirit" of Kandinsky's work. After just over an hour, I decided I had something that was easily identifiable as a derivitive of his work. Actually I was quite pleased with it and surprised I was able to see it through to that point.

Fluent Interfaces

After Reading How Fluent is your Interface? I was intrigued in looking at how different symbols have such different meanings in each country. From this article I realized that there is a need for a universal language of meanings in the world of computers. By universal language I do not mean changing languages or making a new language, but it seems that there is a need for a set standard of words that can be translated and used with no offense anywhere in the world.

I was unaware that the symbol of a stork in Singapore meant maternal death and that the symbol OK was considered vulgar in both Germany and Brazil. Or that there are numbers that are considered unlucky in different countries. There should be an easier way in the begining of the process of creating programs to unversially assign a language that can be used for all countries. It seems as though we are up to date on technology of the programs but not up to date on their language. It is interesting how there are not simultaneously in tune.

Photoshop Frustrations

I have just spent the last four hours sitting in our sub-zero temperature classroom shivering and attempting to figure out how to use the Photoshop program. Part of the problem was remembering all of the things we did in class last week, THAT was not easy. Luckily, one of our classmates was here with me and between the two of us we were able to sort of figure things out. In my reproduction of the Wassily Kandinsky drawing I became very frustrated in trying to make circles transparent and outline them. I also did not know how to combine colors into each half of the circle. If I see the word rastersize one more time I'm going to scream !! The other issue was trying to make the entire background black without it either blending in with the shapes on the screen or my brush strokes ruining the shape I had drawn. When I started doing my own drawing, it was easier to play around with the shapes and positioning them to where I wanted them to be. This is going to take a lot of time to practice and tinker with.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The New Facebook

Since I heard some of you talking about your Facebook infactuation last class-I thought I would pose the question: What do we all think of the 'new' Facebook Zuckerburg and gang are preview on the top of the homepage? I too am Facebook-aholic if you will. 
I think this relates to our reading "The Role of Aesthetics in Web Design." I am not a fan nor are many of my friends because the 'new' page seems far less organized than the older version. From a designer standpoint does the newer Facebook interface improve or complicate the usability? Think about the visual and interactive effects? Will it catch on...I think it will since many of us will just learn to deal because we can't go a day without checking for 'notifications.'
I just thought I would throw this example out here because we are learning to be designers but we are already users.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome!

Welcome the new class to our visual aesthetics class blog. This is your space to share your findings and thoughts. Use it frequently!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

3-D Music Video

Singer Björk has created a 3-D music video for her sone "Wunderlust". Thoughts?

Logo Quiz

I thought this what pretty cool -- Guess the Fake Logo Quiz. It is interesting to see how logos can become so ingrained in our minds, and why their design is so important.

Worth1000

Some cool pics created in Photoshop....I really like the Replacement theory gallery. Very clever.
http://www.worth1000.com/galleries.asp?display=

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New school and Old school

Check out Bob G Campbell on youtube, he gives great photoshop tips, and he is very clear and concise and easy to understand and follow. This is one of my favorite tutorials, he explains how to use 3 seperate layers to enhance photos, also, some nice layer mask sharpening some techniques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLQfva4kWbY

I also came accross this video of an artist using MSpaint (remember that old school window drawing program, to create some really sharp sketches. I still use ms paint every now and again for very minor adjustments.

Old school
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFV9-RuVYRU

Past Work

I was looking through some of the assignments we did over the course of the semester, especially the assignment where we were distorting photos our ourselves and others. It made me think of a picture I photoshopped of myself for facebook, 2 Halloweens ago. Enjoy!

http://hlaboratories.com/derekhalloween.jpg

Presidential candidates in 4 years

Creative use for Photshop tools:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/27/how-the-presidential-cand_n_98861.html

FLY Fusion

This is just kind of a neat site. I love that there is a ton of information and interactivity, but I don't ever feel overwhelmed by what the site has to offer.

http://www.flyworld.com/

Start with the basics

Nice article on web design basics and design principles in general.
http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/

Monday, April 28, 2008

Consistency is key

Be consistent. Don't create a five page website with five uniquely designed pages. Make sure that your navigation, text fonts, colors, backgrounds and page layout are consistent across your entire site.

This tip will probably help us all in the long run when we have designed our sites... especially when it comes to time management.

The problem I keep running into is that I cannot decide on which design to go with (not that all of my ideas are so brilliant that I cannot choose) but more because I am indecisive and cannot make a decision already!

What NOT to do

Although we are going to be launching our websites in their entirety, I know some of you are designing your websites to be used in the "real world." If for some reason there is a page that is being fixed, updated, or just plain not ready...

"Usability Tip: Don't use "Under Construction" signs for sections of your site. If a particular page isn't done, don't even have a link to it. Your site will always be under construction in some way, shape or form; or it's getting very stale quickly."

Although it may be common sense, I happen to run into many sites that are "under construction." save all users the hassle of just not linking to it.

Chapter 13 Part 1

Chapter 13: Screen-Based Controls (Widgets)

The main focus of this chapter was on usability of widgets such as pushbuttons, radio buttons, check boxes, drop-down lists, and entry fields.

1. Distinguish Required and Optional Data Entry Fields
-Users should be able to be able to clearly distinguish optional information from required data.

2. Label Data Entry Fields Consistently
- Data entry fields should be labeled consistently so that the same data items is given the same label if it appears on different pages
- if users are familiar with your sites format they are able to navigate with more ease.
- For example, don't sing words or phrases for some labels and short sentence for others.

3. Do Not Make User-Centered Codes Case Sensitive
- Only use Case sensitive if there is a good reason such as a password
- Clearly state to users when using case sensitive codes

4. Label Pushbuttons Clearly
- Pushbuttons should be labeled with exact action to be taken
- Users should know what they are doing

5. label Data Entry Fields Clearly
- Use descriptive labels that let users know exactly what is required in the data field.

6. Minimize User Data Entry
- Do not require users to enter the same information more than once.
- This eliminates one more task for the users do not need to complete.

7. Put Labels Close to Data Entry Fields
- All labels and related information should be close to the data entry field to enable users to easily relate the label and entries required.

8. Allow Users to See Their Entered Data
- This allows users to see if any errors were made and gives them a chance to correct them.
- Designers should also be aware of the length of data entry fields.

9. Use Radio Buttons for Mutually Exclusive Selections
- Radio buttons elicit reliably better performance than drop-down lists.

10. Use Familiar Widgets
- Use widgets that are familiar to your users and in a commonly used manner
- Do not make the mistake of assuming all users are familiar with all widgets
- Perform usability tests to ensure that users will be able to use the widgets on your site.

11. Anticipate Typical Users Errors
- Provide a message when a user makes a mistake and offer a solution or suggestion.

good reference links for web design

http://graphicssoft.about.com/cs/webgallery/ht/aps5webgallery.htm
helpful article about creating web galleries in photoshop


http://www.allgraphicdesign.com/graphicsblog/2008/03/26/photoshop-forums-and-message-boards-the-ultimate-list-of-45-adobe-photoshop-forums/
blog on all things related to web and graphic design

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Think about others online

When we have good health, we don't often stop to think about the challenges many people have to overcome in working with computers or online. I came across this site by accident when I was searching for some information on pdfs.

It's about designing websites for people with disabilities. It made me pause to remember to always try to think about others and incorporate ways to facilitate webpage use in any design I do. It's always good to help others.

http://www.wac.ohio-state.edu/webaim/acrbaxs.htm

Pod People

This is probably one of the best sites I have seen. Great design, use of color, and the music is great too. I think the idea of the iPod silhouettes make an appearance too. Check it out. 

The 411 on Lists -- Usability Guidelines, Ch. 12

While some of the following guidelines may seem like common knowledge, lists and the way they are designed can have dramatic impacts on the visual aesthetics and usability of your site.

The following is a summary from Chapter 12 on Lists:

Order Elements to Maximize User Performance
- First, decide whether or not there is an order for items that will facilitate the use of the site
- Ensure that the site is formatted to support that order, and that all pages follow the same order
- Keep in mind that it is the user's logic that should prevail rather than the designer's logic

Place Important Items at Top of the List
- Place a list's most important items at the top
- Users tend to stop scanning a list as soon as they see something relevant

Format Lists to Ease Scanning
- Make lists easy to scan and understand
- The use of meaningful labels, effective background colors, borders, and white space allow users to identify a set of items as a discrete list

Display Related Items in Lists
- Display a series of related items in a vertical list rather than as continuous text
- One study indicated that scanning a horizontal list takes users twenty percent longer than scanning a vertical list

Introduce Each List
- Provide an introductory heading (i.e., word or phrase) at the top of each list
- Allows users to readily understand the reason for having a list of items, and how the items relate to one another
- Users are able to use lists better when they include headings

Use Static Menus
- Use static menus to elicit the fastest possible speed when accessing menu items
- Should put the most frequently used menu items in the first few positions of a menu
- Adaptable menus -- where users are allowed to change the order of the items, elicits reasonably fast performance as well.
- However, one study found that users prefer having static menus, rather than adaptive menus

Start Numbered Items at One
- When items are numbered, start the numbering sequence at "one" rather than "zero"

Use Appropriate List Style
- Use bullet lists to present items of equal status or value
- Use numbered lists if a particular order to the items is warranted
- Bullet lists work best when the items do not contain an inherent sequence, order, or rank
- Numbered lists assign each item in the list an ascending number, making the order readily apparent
- Numbered lists are especially important when giving instructions

Capitalize First Letter of First Word in Lists
- Capitalize the first letter of only the first word of a list item, a list box item, check box labels, and radio button labels
- Only the first letter of the first word should be capitalized unless that item contains another word that would normally be capitalized

Pop Art


Many of you may know the king of pop art is Andy Warhol. He wasn't afraid to use color and thus became very popular because of it.  Back in 1969, Esquire magazine put this picture on the cover of their magazine.  For one I thought it was very creative and ironic since one of the most noticed of Warhol's art is the one of the Campbell soup cans.  Then I looked at it closer and I don't know what program they would have used in 1969 to composite the two shots, but I am sure it wasn't Photoshop.  It's funny though because I immediately looked at it and went "Oh that was Photoshopped" as with a lot of other photos out there today.  Oh and you probably can't see it, but above the Esquire type it says the magazine sold for $1 in 1969!

Anyway here is a link to some of Andy Warhol's art if you are interested.



Chapter 13 Part 2

Chapter 13 dealt with Widgets.  This section primarily deals with data entry fields and how to make them not seem like a pain in the users' butt. Here is my recap for future reference.

- Should always partition long data items into shorter sections to help users detect errors. It is easier to see a 10-digit phone number when it is broken up into 3 sections.
- Keep design of data entries consistent instead of requiring users to go back and forth between keyboard and mouse entry. It will slow them down.
- Prioritize push buttons by location and highlighting. Place the most frequently used push button first in a sequence, or on the left since that is the way users read. Also make the more frequent button the default action when users press enter. i.e. Search button.
- Check box control is the most preferred system when users are allowed to choose multiple selections from a list.
- Be sure to label the desired measurement units, such as pounds, ounces or minutes, rather than having users type them in and increase speed of the data entry process.
- When using open lists show as many options as possible to reduce scrolling.
- Display default values for such things as quantity (1) where default values will be defined.
- Place a blinking cursor automatically at the beginning of the first data entry field. Users should not be required to click on the mouse button to activate the field.
- Make sure that double-clicking won’t cause unnecessary problems. For example, most people tend to double-click a link when only one click is necessary and designers have no control over that. But they do have control over what happens. In order to not confuse the users double-clicking should bring users to the same page as if they would single click the same thing.
- Use open lists instead of drop down menus when choosing one out of many. This will save time and reduce scrolling.
- Text entry fields, or data entry fields, are proven to speed up user performance compared to selecting the information from list format.
- Use at least two radio buttons, or option buttons, together. If users choose not to activate any of the radio buttons, make sure to provide a choice labeled “None”
- Provide auto-tabbing for advanced Web users to significantly reduce data entry times.

The overall concept of this chapter is to design data entry interfaces that require the least amount of time required by the user. Also keep it simple so you don’t confuse the user. SAVE TIME AND DON’T CONFUSE THE USER!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ch. 15- Writing Web Content

*Content is the most important part of a web site.
*If the content does not provide the information needed by users, the website will provide little value no matter how easy it is to use the site.

15.1- Make Action Sequences Clear
*When describing an action or task that has a natural order or sequence, structure the content so that the sequence is obvious and consistent.

15.2- Avoid Jargon
*To improve understanding among users who are accustomed to using the jargon term, if may be helpful to put that term in parenthesis.

15.3- Use Familiar Words
*USe words that are familiar to and used frequently by typical users. Words that are more frequently seen and heard are better an dmore quickly recognized.

15.4- Define Acronyms and Abbreviations
*Acronyms and abbreviations should be used sparingly and must be defined in order to be understood by all users.
*Write the word first then in parentheses the acronym, so; Physician Data Query (PDQ).
* Usually, the acronyms and abbreviations are defined on first mention, but users may miss it scrolling.

15.5- Use Abbreviations Sparingly
*The only times to use abbreviations are when they are significantly shorter, save needed space, and will be readily understood by typical users.

15.6- Use Mixed Case w/Prose
*If an item is intended to attract the user's attention, display the item in all uppercase, bold, or italics.
*Do not use these methods for showing emphasis for more than one or two words or a short phrase because they slow reading performance when used for extended prose.

15.7- Limit the Number of Words and Sentences
*To enhance the readability of prose text, a sentence should not contain more than twenty words. A paragraph should not contain more than six sentences.

15.8- Limit Prose Text on Navigation Pages
*When there are many words on navigation pages, users tend to rapidly scan for specific words or begin clicking on many different links, rather than reading the text associated with the links.

15.9- Use Active Voice
* Users benefit from simple, direct language.
*Strong verbs help the user know who is acting and what is being acted upon.

15.10-Write Instructions in the Affirmative
*As a general rule, write instructions in affirmative statements rather than negative statements.
*When giving insturctions, strive to tell users what to do rather than what to avoid doing.
*If the likelihood of making a wrong step is high or the consequences are dire, negative voice may be clearer to the user.

15.11- Make First Sentences Descriptive
*Include the primary theme of a paragraph, and the scope of what it covers, in the first sentence of each paragraph.
*Users tend to skim the first one or two sentences of each paragraph when scanning text.

Colour Emotion (British style)

I found this website about colour emotion. The reason I spelled it like that is because this is a British site. Interesting... this is either the second or third website based out of the UK I have blogged about.

Color emotion is the relationship between color and the viewer's psychological responses. "Warm" is not a real emotion term, but a semantic term for describing the association between colour and temperature. Colour emotion concerns human emotions evoked when seeing colours. "Emotion terms" are those for describing human emotions such as excitement, happiness and anxiety.

Here are some different color emotion theories:

J. W. Goethe developed a colour harmony theory on the basis of his hue circle. In this circle, colours are categorised into two sides, the positive and the negative. The former includes yellow, reddish yellow and yellowish red; the latter includes blue, reddish blue and bluish red.

M. E. Chevreul's theories on colour harmony are based on his colour circle of 64 hues derived from three primary hues: yellow, red and blue.

Ostwald's system is particularly favoured by artists and designers because of its superficial similarity of construction to the way artists mix their paints on the palette.

Munsell's colours in this system are arranged such that the perceptual difference between any two neighbouring colours is nearly constant in each of the three dimensions, Munsell Hue, Munsell Value and Munsell Chroma.

P. Moon and D. E. Spencer proposed a quantitative model of colour harmony, using predictors "colour interval" P. Moon and D. E. Spencer proposed a quantitative model of colour harmony, using predictors "colour interval".

The central idea behind J. Itten's colour harmony theories is that "two or more colours are mutually harmonious if their mixture yields a neutral grey."

The Coloroid system was developed by A. Nemcsics for use in colour design. The aim of the system is to create aesthetic uniformity of a colour space.

The NCS (Natural Colour System) was developed by T. Johansson and S. Hesselgren and, more recently, by A. Hård and L. Sivik. In the NCS, colours are specified in terms of the relative amount of four elementary hues (red, green, yellow and blue) and of black and white.


Colour Appearance Attributes: Every colour has three basic characteristics: hue, lightness and chroma. These are sometimes referred to as the three colour appearance attributes. There are also other attributes used to describe colour appearance, such as brightness, colorfulness and saturation, and some of them are more useful than these three basic attributes in certain circumstances.

The CIE is an international commission of illumination and is responsible for international standards of photometry and colorimetry. The CIE system provides methods for specifying colour stimuli under controlled viewing conditions.

Here is the site... http://colour-emotion.co.uk/whats.html

Science Meets Art

One of my favorites websites is Wired. They always seem to have the most interesting articles.

"Nano Photos Rival Modern Art" is a collection of the real scientific images that were manipulated resulting in some striking images that look more like art than science.

Best Text Effects

I found what the site PhotoRoadMap calls the "Best 80 Photoshop Text Effects." They are AWESOME.

What's Old is New Again

I recently discovered a great blog -- Smashing Magazine.

A recent post "Celebration of Vintage and Retro Design," talks about how older graphic designs such as propaganda, ads, and book cover from the 50's, 60's and 70's are influencing a whole new generation of designers.

There are some really cool designs, I love the advertisements from the 1950s.

Unique Web Designs

Here is a company -- Vandelay Website Design -- and some of their truly unique designs. I especially like the notebook design.

Take a look here.

Inspiration

Here is a great site I often look to for inspiration when I'm about to create a design. It feature the portfolios of various graphic designers and web developer from around the world. go to the mugshots section of the site and click on the image of a particular designer to view their portfolio.

Design is Kinky

Chapter 14 reading

Chapter 14 of the reading focused mainly on aesthetics related to the use of images of websites. The chapter covered several different issues related to this topic, and gave a few main points on each. The first point they made was to use background images on websites sparingly, especially when there is text present on a layer above them, they can easily make a page hard to read. The next point made was that the purpose of an image on a website shoul be clear, in that images which are clickable should be easily recognized as clickable, and images related to text should be close to the text.

Images are often a mjor factor in how fast web pages load. The text recommends splitting large images up into smaller pieces to short load times, and also load times under 5 seconds were considered to be good, 5-10 ok, and over 10 not worth their time.

Audio and video should be used to support an idea on a site, they should not be used just for the sake of using them. They claim this should also be applied to logos. Also important is to not make any of the images on the site look like ad banners, because users will avoid looking at them. Making navigation, for example, look like an add banner would be a grave mistake. Designers should also choose images which users will relate to or be familiar with as opposed to oscure ones that they might not be able to fully associate with the message the website is conveying.

The next section advises designers to use images sparingly on websites, and to only add them where they will in some way enhance the website. It also advises designers to pick images which will not be distracting to the user ( find this a little strange since most images on a website will detract a user's attention from the text based content).

The next section advises the use of charts and graphs when representing data, since it will aid the user in understanding and visualizing what they website is trying to communicate about the data.

Animations should have introductions (i believe "and or") text explaining what they are illustrating. (Some animation is purely decorative though, I wouldn't think that it would need explanation).

Mimicking real life in designs, especially functional designs can aid in user's understanding what they are supposed to do, or how they are supposed to interact with a particular interface.

Thumbnails can help load times on websites because they only load a small preview of the full sized image and you can have multiple thumbnails on a page without inreasing the load time too much. thumbnails will however often increase the number of pages within the website.

The final few points of the chapter were that designers should use images instead of text wherever possible to communicate a message to a user. images are often easier to comprehend and can be universal. (Although we learned last week about how this can differ from culture to culture). Also, photographs whihc support a website are helpful in that they create an atmosphere within the website which leads a user to trust the organization who's website they are viewing. Users are more apt to trust sites with photographs on them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flashlights As Art

Stumbled upon this article on Wired.com and thought the photos were pretty interesting.  A graffiti artist grabbed some flashlights and ran around in circles at night to create the cool effect. It was something different so I thought I would share. Happy viewing!

webstie designing, site grinder, 3D, and slice

http://www.sitepoint.com/article/design-website-photoshop
http://www.it-enquirer.com/main/ite/more/sitegrinder/

http://psdtuts.com/designing-tutorials/creating-a-cool-3d-web-design-effect/

http://www.entheosweb.com/photoshop/slice.asp

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Building Blocks

I'm really liking this website. This article is short and sweet but has some really good points and I love that examples are provided. Enjoy!

http://www.layersmagazine.com/building-blocks.html

Having Fun in Photoshop

A cute article reminding us all that Photoshop should be fun! And some neat tricks I might add.

http://www.layersmagazine.com/having-fun-photoshop.html

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Some optical illusions...

Some websites of some cool optical illusions::

http://ava7.com/images/optical-illusion.jpg
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/teares/gktvc/vc/lt/OpticalIllusions/images/opticey2.gif
http://z.about.com/d/puzzles/1/0/v/R/002.jpg
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0506/tornado_nguyen_big.jpg
http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/rje0116l.jpg
http://z.about.com/d/puzzles/1/0/8/S/015.jpg

Aesthetics and various definitions

This website: http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/a/aesthetics.html
is like a mini dictionary involving aesthetic terms... take a look.

another site with tips on content organization

http://www.hannonhill.com/news/press-releases/2007/intranets.html

this site is a little simplistic in its approach, but useful for a jumping-off point

Useful article on organizing content

http://www.uie.com/articles/folksonomies/

Brief summary of article:

This holds some useful information on how to organize, and ultimately search, content on websites.

A taxonomy is a hierarchical tree structure such as those used in scientific classification schemes. Every web site contains its own unique information, so there is no single classification scheme that works for everybody. Hence taxonomies don’t work well.

Folksonomies are a new user-driven approach to organizing information. Sites with folksonomies include two basic capabilities: they let users add “tags” to information and they create navigational links out of those tags to help users find and organize that information later.

Slice Away!

Here are some sites containing tips or tutorials on slicing. Happy Slicing!

http://www.entheosweb.com/photoshop/slice.asp

http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/webgraphics/a/whyslice.htm

http://www.entheosweb.com/photoshop/layout.asp

http://www.heathrowe.com/tuts/slices.asp

http://www.photoshopcafe.com/tutorials/super%20tutorial%202/website%204.htm

http://www.photoshopcafe.com/tutorials/super%20tutorial%202/website%203.htm (rollovers)

http://www.elated.com/articles/slicing-in-photoshop/

Delta Listens to its Tall Costumers

Delta Airlines will now install economy seats that are roomier. Who doesn't like more legroom!

Take a look

History's Five Best Interface Design

I came across another article on Wired.com titled "History's Five Best Interface Designs". So what are they?

1. Manual Camera
2. The Mouse
3. Record Players
4. Manual Transmission
4. The Knob

Macro Style

Wired.com published the top ten reader macro photos. All of them are really cool and submitted by readers. I personally am I fan of macro photography. It's all in the smallest details.

http://www.wired.com/culture/art/multimedia/2008/04/gallery_top_10_macro_photos?slide=1&slideView=11

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cool website: How to produce great graphics in Adobe Photoshop


http://www.elated.com/articles/cat/photoshop/

One bullet point they go into is how to create rollover menu bars...

Funny differences between Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Aussies :)

So I found this article that pokes jokes between Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Aussies. It's pretty funny :)

http://www.thehumorarchives.com/joke/Cultural_Differences_Explained

Here is one example:

Aussies: Are extremely patriotic to their beer.
Americans: Are flag-waving, anthem-singing, and obsessively patriotic to the point of blindness. Canadians: Can't agree on the words to their anthem, when they can be bothered to sing them. Brits: Do not sing at all but prefer a large brass band to perform the anthem.

Dinner in the Sky

I came across this randomly and it blows my mind. Check out Dinner in the Sky.

I am pretty afraid of heights, but I might be able to get over it for this!



Image via Dinnerinthesky.com